September 2019

Autumn Everest expedition leader, Garrett Madison, provides this update on the new data regarding the Khumbu Icefall route and subsequent decisions made:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering / Mountain Hardwear Autumn Everest Expedition.  Today is September 22nd.  To recap yesterday:  we had a great day, our sherpa team reached Camp 1.  But, on the way down they noticed a large serac about 3,000 ft. or 1,000m up off of the Khumbu Icefall on the west shoulder of Mount Everest.

 

We were studying that late last night and again today with some drone footage (shared by the Polish Lhotse team) and, uh, it doesn’t look very safe.  So the Mountain Hardwear team has decided to conclude their expedition on Everest and decouple from the Madison Mountaineering expedition.  That means Joe Vernachio and Tim Emmett are going to be heading out tomorrow by helicopter, weather pending.  [see the @mhweverest2019 Instagram post for their firsthand conciderations]

 

Myself and the other climbers here with Madison Mountaineering, Zac and Kristin, are going to stay and evaluate conditions on a day-by-day basis.  So, we’ll have to keep an eye on the serac and also the weather, of course, to see how things progress.  But, everyone’s doing well here in base camp.

 

Today our sherpas decided not to move up look for a route from Camp 1 to Camp 2 because the weather was bad.  It was very cloudy with little to no visibility up in the Western Cwm between Camp 1 and Camp 2, which would make route finding very difficult with the deep snow.

 

Everyone’s here doing well, but we’re sad to have things turn out this way, but we’ll keep our hopes up that perhaps the serac will may come down tonight when no one’s on the route and clear out for the rest of the expedition.

Photo of serac above, with 3 climbers below...

Photo of serac above, with 3 climbers below… (📸: Tim Emmett)

Zoomed view of detatched section of hanging serac

Zoomed view (upper red circle in above image) of detached section of hanging serac (📸: Andrzej Bargiel)


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Autumn Everest expedition leader, Garrett Madison, report on the exciting progress today:

Hello!  This is Garrett calling in for the Mountain Hardwear Autumn Everest Expedition with Madison Mountaineering.  Today is September 21st and we had a GREAT day!

 

Exciting news:  our sherpa team was able to find the route through the icefall and reached Camp 1! So, the route is open to Camp 1!  The other climbers had a great day in base camp, relaxing and doing a little training out in the icefall.  Beautiful day here.

 

Tomorrow we are looking forward to another good weather day and further process on the route and planning for our first rotation up to the high camps.

 

All’s well here at base camp and we’ll check-in soon.  Thanks!

The awesome Garmin MARQ Expedtion at Everest base camp

Garrett rocks the new Garmin MARQ Expedition at 17,701 ft. elevation Everest Base Camp.  Keeping everything running on time.

Enjoying the comforts of the new Mountain Hardwear Space Station at EBC

Enjoying the comforts of the awesome, new Mountain Hardwear Space Station at EBC


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Here’s Mountain Hardwear Athlete Tim Emmett with today’s Everest expedition update:

Hello, this is the Mountain Hardwear / Madison Mountaineering Everest Expedition dispatch.  We are at base camp right now and we’ve been up to the icefall today with some of the crew to see how’s that’s going.  Beautiful weather today, it was the first time since we got here to be honest.  So it was amazing oportunity to see the big mountains that we are surrounded by.  Tomorrow we are going to have a rest day.  The sherpas are getting us really close to Camp 1!  So we’re getting quite excited about that.  So, yeah we’ll see what happens!!

Sunny at EBC

Sunny at EBC (📸: Joe Vernachio)

Tim Emmett getting his dinner. It’s burgers!!

Tim Emmett getting his dinner. It’s burgers!!

Climbing in the icefall today

Climbing in the icefall today


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Today, Mountain Hardwear CEO, Joe Vernachio, provide a recap of yesterday’s activities around base camp the plan for today:

Hi, this is Joe Vernachio for the Mountain Hardwear Everest Expedition with Madison Mountaineering.  We had an active rest day yesterday where we walked up into the Khumbu Icefall.  It was a very cloudy, snowy day.  We woke up this morning to bright sunshine, and we are going to do it again today and get some altitude and some acclimatization.  And tomorrow (will be) a rest day, then we will probably start our rotation up the mountain.  Everybody’s good!  We’re here in base camp, just finishing up breakfast, and we are having a GOOD time!  We will talk to you soon!

Joe V on the ice course

Joe V on the ice course

Today's View from Base Camp

Today’s View from Base Camp


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

From Everest Base Camp, expedition leader Garrett Madison provides an update on today’s exciting progress!

Hi!  This is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering / Mountain Hardwear Autumn Everest Expedition.  Today is September 18th and we had a great day.  Myself and Tim Emmett went up into the Khumbu Icefall with our whole team of Nepal sheraps and we climbed up to about the half-way point where this ‘impasse section’ has been that no one’s passed for about 10 days.  Tim got outfront along with Dorje Geljin and another one of our sherpas and was able to push through the route and get across this ice ridge and find a good way to get to the other side safely.  So, we’re really excited about that!  Great effort by Tim.

 

The whole team is going to take a rest day tomorrow.  It was pretty snowy today and tomorrow is supposed to be pretty snowy as well but then it should be clearing up and drying out the following day.  In a couple of days from now we’ll make another effort and hopefully the sherpa team will be able to make more progress fixing lines up through the icefall, hopefully to Camp 1 (6050m/19,850ft.).

 

The team of climbers here in base camp are doing great.  Just taking it easy, sorting gear, and getting ready for another fun day here tomorrow in Everest Base Camp.

With Tim Emmett (Red jacket) who went out onto the sharp end today to fix rope over the ice fin

With Tim Emmett (Red jacket) who went out onto the sharp end today to fix rope over the ice fin

In the icefall near the halfway point

In the icefall near the halfway point


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Low visibility delayed plans to investigate the current impasse along the route through the Khumbu Icefall.  Garrett Madison, expedition leader, has today’s expedition dispatch:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Mountain Hardwear Autumn Everest Exedition with Madison Mountaineering.  Today is September 17th and we’re in base camp!  Today our trekkers are heading down valley to Pheriche, making their way back to Lukla and the climbing team is here.

 

We were planning to go up today and take a look at the impasse in the Khumbu Icefall just below the ‘football field’ area but it was pretty socked in this morning and some fresh snow.  So, we desided with the low visibility it would be better to wait until tomorrow or the next day when it clears up and we can go up there and scout around and hopefully find a route through the impasse that is holding everyone up right now.

 

Everyone’s doing great and happy to be here at Everest Base Camp!

Trekking team heading out from base camp

Trekking team heading out from base camp – 3 days to Lukla


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Nice end-of-season climb on Washington state’s Mt. Olympus last week.  Lead guide, Terray Sylvester, provided this report:

We made the most of challenging conditions last week on Mount Olympus’ Blue Glacier Route.

The trail to the route follows the milky Hoh River through the massive trees of the Hoh Rainforest for about 17 miles to Glacier Meadows campground, just below the foot of the Blue Glacier. It’s a uniquely beautiful approach, but since the Hoh Rainforest gets 12 to 14 feet of rain each year, it can also be a bit wet. We had rainy weather both days of our hike in, and for that, we all carried golf umbrellas. Maxfli isn’t a brand you often see on a mountaineering rack, but those umbrellas kept us dry each day until we climbed into our tents. For backcountry comfort, they were some of the most important gear we brought.

After all that rain, I was relieved to see stars in the sky when I stuck my head out of the tent at 1:30 a.m. We ate a quick breakfast of oatmeal and hot coffee, and then hiked out of camp, over the lateral moraine on the east side of the Blue Glacier and down to the glacier at about 5,000 feet of elevation. By the time the sun was up, we had crossed the lower arm of the glacier and were climbing toward the top of the Snow Dome, a plateau at about 7,000 feet. But late-season conditions were slowing our pace. Lack of snow on the lower glacier forced us to pick our way carefully across the glacier’s deep, icy furrows. Higher up, I built a series of anchors to protect the final, steep slopes near the top of the Snow Dome. Earlier in the season, those slopes would have been covered in snow and we could have simply walked up them as a rope team. But with glacier ice exposed, it was too dangerous to ascend without belaying.

By the time we approached Crystal Pass at 7,200 feet, we were running out of time to make it to the summit. We would still have to climb and descend the final 5th class rock pitch below the summit pinnacle, but we also faced a more immediate problem – a wide bergschrund that spanned the glacier below Crystal Pass. Having climbed down into and back out of the bergschrund a week earlier, I knew we could do it safely, but I also knew it would cost us quite a bit of time. Ascending higher would have pushed us into a long summit day when nightfall and fatigue might conspire to make an accident more likely. With clouds coming in, we returned to camp, taking off our packs at our tents just before dusk.

On many climbs, the most difficult choice is when to turn around. It was disappointing not to stand on the summit of Olympus on this climb, but that was the price we paid for a lesson in decision-making, and for the experience of climbing on this remote, beautiful peak in late-season conditions when the dramatic crevasses and seracs of the Blue Glacier are most visible. We also got to practice some teamwork and rope skills as we moved through the belays on the Snow Dome. All in all, it was a valuable trip to one of Washington’s most remote and beautiful peaks.

Team with golf umbrellas hiking to Mt. Olympus high camp

You don’t always see gear branded Maxfli (golf umbrella) on mountaineering trips!

Sean hikes from the Hoh River to Glacier Meadows at the base of Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park

Sean hikes from the Hoh River to Glacier Meadows at the base of Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park

Climbing the Blue Glacier route on Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park

Climbing the Blue Glacier route on Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park

Climbing the Blue Glacier route on Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park

Climbing the Blue Glacier route on Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park

Team pose while climbing the Blue Glacier route on Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park

Team pose while climbing the Blue Glacier route on Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park

After reaching Everest Base Camp yesterday, the team held their Puja ceremony today in which a Buddist Lama led the team in prayers for safe passage on the mountain.  Garrett Madison, expedition leader, has this update:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering / Mountain Hardwear Everest Expedition.  Today is September 16th.  We arrived at base camp yesterday on the 15th, settled in last night, and had a good night.

 

Today we did our Puja ceremony with the whole Sherpa team, all of the climbers, and trekkers!  It was a really good Puja ceremony; we had a Buddist Lama from Pingboche come up the valley and we had good weather for nearly all of our Puja ceremony.  So, it was a great day, great ceremony!

 

Tomorrow we are going to start climbing, work on the route through the icefall.  And also say goodbye to our trekking team who are going to head back down towards Lukla and Kathmandu.  All’s well here at Everest Base Camp.

 

We’ll check-in soon.  Thanks!

Puja!

Puja! (📸: Aang Phurba Sherpa)

Climbing team after the Puja ceremony

Climbing team after the Puja ceremony (📸: Aang Phurba Sherpa)

Garrett and Anag Phurba at the Puja

Garrett and Anag Phurba at the Puja (📸: Aang Phurba Sherpa)

The team after the Puja ceremony

The team after the Puja ceremony (📸: Aang Phurba Sherpa)

 


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Today the team reached Everest Base Camp (5280m/17,323ft.) around 09:43 AM UTC (2:43 AM PDT or 3:28 PM Nepal local time)!

Communications are still being set up but expedition leader, Garrett Madison, was able to provide this brief update via our Garmin inReach Mini:

Just arrived in EBC…the crew is psyched to be here…although it’s a little wet and cloudy.  Hopefully clear skies tomorrow morning for our Puja ceremony.  Everyone is doing great.  The base camp set up is nice!

Today’s hike was about six hours from Lobuche (4932m/16,181ft.) including a nice lunch break at Gorak Shep (5264m/17,270ft.) before continuing on to Everest base camp (5280m/17,323ft.).  Stay tuned for more dispatches as the climbing team settles into their home for the next month and begins the climbing!

RainOn tracking map of trek from Lobuche to EBC

Tracking map of trek from Lobuche to EBC

2019 Autumn Everest base camp

Our autumn Everest base camp dining tent. Check out the sweet stonework in the foreground. (📸: Aang Phurba Sherpa)


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Today the Everest team moved up along the Khumbu Glacier to the village of Lobuche (4940m/16,207ft.), leaving just one more day of trekking to reach Everest Base Camp.  Here’s expedition leader, Garrett Madison‘s recap of the day:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Mountain Hardwear Mount Everest Expedition team.  Today is September 14.  We had a great day trekking from Pheriche up to Lobuche.  We stopped and had lunch in Thuklha and then stopped at the Everest Memorials and took in the gravity of the place.  And then made our way up to Lobuche where we settled in this afternoon, had a great dinner, also a birthday celebration for one of our team members, Sable, and we’re heading off to bed here shortly.

 

Tomorrow we’re looking forward to arriving in Everest Base Camp!  So, fingers crossed for good weather.  All’s well here on the trek to Everest Base Camp in the Khumbu Valley!

Trekker Sablle with Kilian Jornet on the trek

Sablle (who had a birthday today) with Kilian Jornet on the trek

Team in Pheriche

Team in Pheriche (📸: Francois Lebeau / Louder than 11)


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

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